By Mike Monahan
Mattoon boys golf captured the conference and regional titles, but the Green Wave squad never had a chance to compete for a state title because the IHSA canceled that event for COVID concerns.
MHS has lost seniors Meade Johnson, Colton Romine and James Shamdin. Johnson was the individual medalist at the Class 2A Paris Regional as Mattoon won its first regional since 2017. And Romine took second after a playoff to earn all-Apollo Conference honors.
Despite the losses, Mattoon again has a good chance of winning a Class 2A regional and advancing to state. The Green Wave still have Stewart Druin (Jr.), the reigning Apollo Conference champion, and Blaine Powers (Jr.) earned all-conference honors.
Druin fired an 84 and Powers carded an 86 in the IHSA sectional, which was at Centralia, where the Green Wave placed third.
It is a young team with 16 players, including 12 freshmen and sophomores.
“We just need tournament experience because we are replacing 3 seniors from last year’s team,” said Mattoon boys coach Bill Behrends, who is assisted by Brett Poorman, a 2007 Arcola grad. “We are replacing them with two freshmen and a sophomore.”
Powers and Druin were among the team’s top five all season.
This season started in the 18-team Raider-Redbird Classic on the D. A. Weibring course at Illinois State University Aug. 17 with Mattoon showing promise for the season with a 317 earning seventh place. Evan Diedrich, a sophomore, led the Green Wave with a 75, good for seventh place. Madden Johnson, a freshman, shot an 80, while Druin and Powers had 81s and Brock Taylor, a sophomore, had an 83, while freshman Will Pullen finished with an 89.
“We surpassed expectations in our first meet by shooting a team total of 317 on the same course that will host the state tournament,” said Behrends. Diedrich has taken great strides since last season. He has shown a new level of confidence. It should be a good season for him.”
Diedrich had a 98 in the sectional meet last October.
Last Thursday, Mattoon finished third in the 22-team Lincoln Railer Scrambler at the Lincoln Elks Golf Course with a 14-under 57.
Mattoon then won the Charger Invitational at the University of Illinois Blue course.
“I am pleasantly surprised by the two freshmen (Johnson and Pullen) that are playing varsity,” said Behrends. “They are much more prepared for varsity competition than I expected, and they will be key contributors throughout the season.”
The top six at the start of the season are Druin, Powers, Diedrich, Madden Johnson, Brock Taylor and Will Pullen.
“The kids are extremely motivated and really want to make a state finals appearance,” said Behrends of having a state meet this year. “All we need is experience. The boys are extremely competitive and have worked well together at practice and in tournaments.”
Mattoon boys’ golf varsity schedule
Friday-at Champaign Central Invite at University of Illinois Blue course, 1 p.m.
Sept. 2-at Paris Eagle Ridge, 4 p.m.; Sept. 3 at Danville Turtle Run Golf Course, 1 p.m.; Sept. 7-at Urbana University of Illinois Orange course, 4 p.m.; Sept. 10-CRAIG DIXON INVITE at Meadowview/Mattoon Golf and Country Club, 1 p.m.; Sept. 11-CRAIG DIXON INVITE at Meadowview/Mattoon Golf and Country Club, 8 a.m.; Sept. 15-CHAMPAIGN CENTRAL, RANTOUL (senior night), 4 p.m. Sept. 17-at Mount Zion Invite (South Side Country Club), 1 p.m.; Sept. 18-at Paris Invite (Eagle Ridge Golf Course), 8:30 a.m.; Sept. 20-Apollo Conference meet at Mahomet (Lake of the Woods Golf Course), 8:30 a.m.. ; Sept. 21-at Lawrenceville, 4 p.m.; Sept. 24-at Charleston Invite (Charleston Country Club), 1 p.m.; Sept. 25-at Normal Invite (Ironwood Golf Course) 8:30 a.m.; Sept. 29-Class 2A regional, TBA
Oct. 4-Class 2A sectional, TBA; Oct. 8-9 D. A. Weibring Golf Course at Illinois State